Caring, Communicating and Decoding Distress

Caring, Communicating and
Decoding Distress
G. Allen Power, MD
Centralina Area Agency on Aging
November 7th, 2014
Institutional Model of Care
 Reflects societal views of aging
 Values “doing” over “being”
 Sees ageing as decline
 Devalues elders
 Discounts and stigmatizes people living with dementia
 Uses a “hospital” model approach to long-term care
 Provides medical and nursing care, but fails to recognize
and cultivate other aspects of life and well-being
Institutional Model…
Erodes elder empowerment through:
Operational, and
Personal Dimension
Elaine Brody, MSW (1971)
 “Excess disability”—Disability that is greater than the
underlying illness itself would produce
 A function of the care environment
 The good news: potentially reversible!
The Danger of Stigmas…
 The self-fulfilling prophecy:
“If you expect less, that’s
what you will get!”
SFP Examples
 He can’t do that because he has dementia, so we will
do it for him.
 She can’t decide that, so we will decide for her
 People with dementia cannot learn
 People with dementia cannot grow
 Frail elders cannot give care, only receive it
 What examples can you think of??
Operational Dimension
Often expressed through self-fulfilling prophecies
 Doing for
 Deciding for
 Excluding
 Language!
 Regimented living schedules
 Positioning and malignant social psychology
Physical Dimension
 Long hallways
 Double rooms
 Nursing station
 Med carts
 Uniforms
 Beds, alarms, etc.
…cause excess disability and reinforce the “sick” role
Is “person-centered care” good
 Often viewed and applied paternalistically
 Often retains many aspects of positioning, MSP and
 Organizational / departmental priorities usually trump
individual choice
 Positioning and SFPs are often mirrored by how
management views/treats staff!!
Dr. Richard Taylor
 “My biggest challenge is to find meaning in today.”
 “I need a purposeful and purpose-filled life.”
 “I need to be enabled and re-abled.”
What We Often Hear
 “I cannot give him choices – it would be too risky.”
 “I tried to give him choices, but he didn’t seem to know what
to do, so I make them instead.”
 We hear this about people living with dementia.
 We also hear this about employees!
How Can We Apply the Conditions of
Empowerment to People Living with
Cognitive Disabilities??
Care Partnerships
Levels of Empowerment
Face-to-face communication skills
 Working at tasks
 Wording for choices
 Appreciation
Face-to-Face Approaches
At its Most Basic Level…
Good Communication
General Approach:
 At the door  knock, identify, ask permission to enter
 Re-introduce yourself
 Sit down – face to face, eye level
 “Eye of the hurricane”
 Physical space, comfort, quiet
 Optimize hearing and vision
 Center yourself
Basics (cont.)
 Speak slowly and clearly (not loudly)
 Allow time for processing and response
 Eye contact, facial expression, non-verbal cues
 Project calm, kindness, empathy
 Appropriate touch
 Active listening (Clarify, Rephrase, Reflect,
Other Aids to Communication
Allow time for people with aphasia to speak
 Don’t cut off, but do help fill in ideas to assist and
confirm understanding
 Look for “back doors” to aphasia (music, art, pictures,
emotional triggers)
 Look at context and emotional content of statements,
not details of words
 Always validate feelings
“Saving Face”
 Asking for info can be frustrating and fatiguing
 Practice the “fine art of asking questions”
 Help fill in gaps while conversing
 “Speak like a sports interviewer”
 Recall an event and let elder add as able
 Don’t diminish person’s recollection
 Preserve dignity in social situations
Working at Tasks
Doing For
Doing With
 Approach from the front
 Use “face-to-face” communication skills
 Make a connection
 Use name and/or light touch to focus attention
 Prepare and explain, verbal and visual cues as needed
 Check for understanding and acceptance
Tasks (cont.)
 Present objects in proper orientation and ready for use
 Begin with verbal cue
 Add visual if needed
 May need help with:
- Initiation
- Sequencing
- Problem solving
 Hand-under-hand technique
- Re-awakens “muscle memory”
- Ensures gentle approach
Wording for Choices
 Open-ended question – when to use?
 Offer a list
 Offer choices two-at-a-time
 Simplify wording and add emphasis and visual cues
 Offer choices one-at-a-time
 Look for non-verbal acceptance or dismissal
 Re-frame “refusals” and “resistance” as exercising choice
 “How do they teach us??”
Appreciation and Self-Esteem
 “Can you please help me with this?”
 “Would you please hold this for me?”
 “What do you think about this?”
 Check for direction through steps of a task
 Give positive feedback and compliment (honestly)
 Give thanks and appreciation
 When all else fails, engage through every task
Experiential Approach to
Decoding Distress
Dementia is a condition in which a
person’s ability to maintain her/his
well-being becomes compromised
General Approach
 Medical Audit (not always necessary)
 Environmental Audit
 *Experiential Audit*
Experiential Audit
 Distress as unmet needs
 Life history, job, hobbies, activity patterns…
 Role play, see through his / her eyes
 Look for meaning in behavioral expression
 Look at well-being domains
The Experiential Pathway to
How Full Are the
The Key…
Turn your backs on the
“behavior,” and find the “ramps”
to well-being!
Experiential Audit
Using Well-Being Domains
(Sample questions)
 Identity (Is my story known and understood by my care
 Security (Do I feel safe in my surroundings and do I
trust those who provide my care?)
 Connectedness (Do I know my care partners? Do I feel
like I belong in my living space?)
 Autonomy (Do I have opportunities for choice and
control throughout the day? )
 Meaning (Are the daily activities meaningful to me? Are
my self-esteem and ability to care for others supported?)
 Growth (Do I have opportunities to experience life in all
its variety and to engage creatively with the world?)
 Joy (Is life celebrated with me? Am I loved?)
Approach to Distress
 Consider distress to be legitimate, don’t trivialize or challenge
(his/her reality is the one that counts!)
 Approach alone, calm, centered
 Caring demeanor – voice, face, body language
 Begin by validating emotion
 Words won’t be heard till there is an emotional connection
 Move conversation to a less emotional place
 To re-orient or not??
 Investigate triggers
Finding the Calm Center
 Deep breaths
 The slow count
 Imagery
 Look for positive attributes
 Look for positive connections
 Mindfulness practices
 Personal practices (meditation, tai chi, yoga,
biofeedback, etc.)
Operationalizing Domains of
A few simple (and not-so-simple)
 Preferred term of address
 “Sundown” syndrome
Dedicated Staff Assignments
“It Takes A Community - A relationship-centred approach to celebrating and supporting old age”
Daniella Greenwood
Strategy and Innovation Manager
Arcare Aged Care
 22 residential care homes in Victoria and Queensland
 Some “Sensitive care” areas for people living with dementia
 Appreciative inquiry survey of 80 elders, staff and family
 Identified four main categories, including “connections”
 Many comments highlighted the importance of continuous
 Began to formulate pathway for dedicated staff assignments
in all areas where people lived with dementia
Arcare (cont.)
 Staff education sessions
 Re-application process for all hands-on staff
 All staff commit to at least 3 shifts per week
 Dedicated assignments shared with elders and family
members each week
 Positive feedback from most staff and managers
 Within 6 weeks, staff spending more time with elders,
without sacrificing task completion
Arcare (cont.)
 One early-adopting community:
- 70% decrease in chest infections
- 100% decrease in pressure sores
- 100% decrease in formal complaints from families
- Decrease in staff in one area from 48  26
- Decrease in avg. day/evening care partners in a month from 26  4!!
 After 12 months in early adopters:
- 28% decrease in staff sick days
- Still no pressure sores
 Two communities have had 0% turnover
Castle & Anderson,
(2011, 2013)
 Study 1: 2839 UD nursing homes
- Significant decreases in pressure sores, restraints,
urinary catheters, and pain in home with >80% dedicated
 Study 2: 3941 US nursing homes
- Significantly fewer survey deficiencies in several QOL
& QOC categories with >85% dedicated staffing
- Follow-up study also showed significantly lower CAN
turnover and absenteeism
Two recent studies
(Kunik, et al. 2010; Morgan, et al. 2013)
 Factors leading to “aggressive
 Both studies found a major factor to
be a decrease in consistency and
quality of staff-elder relationships
 Knocking!
 Body language
 The verbal-nonverbal connection
 Communication/facilitation skills!!
 Partnering through tasks
 “Continual consent”
Thank you! Questions?
[email protected]

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